Raising Arizona Kids

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

How to select a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician

Exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life is best for baby, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a statement that reaffirms AAP policy.

The AAP wants parents to think of breastfeeding as not just a lifestyle choice, but as an investment in the short- and long-term health of their newborn.

Part of the pediatrician’s job is to encourage and support breastfeeding — as well as convey the health risks of choosing not to breastfeed. How can new parents find a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician?

Laurie Jones, MD, IBCLC, with her son and daughter

Laurie Jones, MD, IBCLC, one of the few pediatricians who is also a board certified lactation consultant, and a member of the Arizona Chapter of the AAP, developed a strong interest in breastfeeding after her daughter, now three, was born.

Things didn’t start out so well, says Jones, who says she almost quit on day 11. “I was a mess from exhaustion and pain and feeling like a failure. Nothing feels worse than not being able to feed your baby.”

But Jones was lucky — she found help from a skilled lactation consultant who she says “changed everything.  My husband and my mother also gave me encouragement and support in those tough first weeks.”

Getting that breastfeeding relationship on track, says Jones, “changed my life and my career forever. I took steps to become a lactation consultant in the year and a half following her birth.”

In her pediatrics practice, Jones fills a gap that she thinks has been lacking—an understanding of the critical interaction between mother and infant as part of the physician’s complete care of the patient. “Watching the baby get on the breast and observing a feed is critical to assessing a newborn or infant. I don’t feel that I have completely examined an infant until I see the baby nursing.”

Jones says that the subject of breastfeeding has been lacking in medical education. She’s out to change that. One tool she uses is a new AAP breastfeeding curriculum. She teaches medical students and residents about breastfeeding techniques, and works with the St. Joseph’s Pediatrics Breastfeeding Clinic.

In her practice, Jones provides extra-long appointments for new moms who need help. Her practice encourages mothers to nurse in the waiting room and also during painful procedures such as vaccinations.

Jones says she discusses the nursing relationship at every well visit until the child or mother chooses to wean, and supports extended breastfeeding as recommended by the AAP, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

“I love helping mothers get past breastfeeding hurdles, and seeing them reach their goals, says Jones. “Nothing makes me happier than to see a mother leave my office with her breastfeeding problem solved. I can relate to so many of the issues they are dealing with because of my own experience with my two kids.  I feel like I am in the trenches with them!”

Jones says that parents should select a pediatrician who understands and supports breastfeeding and does not routinely supplement infants with formula.  Ask in advance for a clear explanation of any medical reasons for giving formula.

What should an expectant mom ask a prospective pediatrician about breastfeeding? Tips from Laurie Jones, MD, IBCLC:

  • How long do you recommend a child be breastfed?
  • Do you routinely supplement breastfed babies?
  • Do you have an IBCLC in your office?
  • Do you have a resource list for breastfeeding help if I need it?
  • Is anyone on your staff specially trained to help breastfeeding mothers?
  • Do you encourage mothers to nurse in your waiting room?
  • Do you have handouts or other support materials for breastfeeding mothers?
  • Do you encourage mothers to nurse if they desire while the baby has shots or other procedures?
  • When do you recommend solids be introduced?
  • When do you recommend a child be weaned from breast milk?
  • Do many of your patients reach the recommended 12 month mark for breast feeding?
  • Do you use the 2010 CDC growth charts based on breastfed infants?
  • Do you offer formula bags to your breastfeeding patients?
  • Does the office display formula brochures or formula bags in the front office area or exam rooms?
  • How do you feel about extended nursing and child-led weaning?
  • What resources do you use to check if a drug is safe in breast milk?
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Vicki Louk Balint

Multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint covers medical issues for RAISING ARIZONA KIDS magazine.

11 Responses

  1. Abraham Lee says:

    Dr. Jones is by far one of the best resources for breastfeeding here in Arizona! She was one of my mentors in training and has helped me teach my new mothers how to stay strong in nursing their babies. Way to go Laurie!

  2. Stacey Piccinati says:

    Way to go, Dr. Jones! We are so proud of your contributions to women and their families! Thank you for your effort to disseminate accurate, supportive information about breastfeeding to new moms.

  3. admin vickibalint says:

    We love helping to provide accurate and supportive info for families from the experts. Thank you, Stacey, for taking the time to comment!

  4. Thanks so much RAK for this article on Dr. Jones. So many mothers feel not only that they are alone, but they feel bad that they have a difficult time with something that is suppose to be so natural. And here comes Dr. Jones, a pediatrician, willing to say that she had a rough go and that with the proper help and support, mothers can work through the challenges of the early days of breastfeeding, Love the article.

  5. Uzma Jafri says:

    Dr. Jones is a great mentor and physician!

  6. […] shared this article today, what to ask a pediatrician about BF. A good list for anyone interested. I never imagined how strongly I have become opinionated on this […]

  7. Jill says:

    How do you get in touch with her? My almost 10 mo decided to stop breastfeeding abruptly and I can’t get him to go back on no matter what I try. I’m not getting the support I need. 🙁

  8. admin vickibalint says:

    Hi, Jill, take a look at the link in the post for the Pediatric Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital. And for anyone seeking help with breastfeeding support, another resource is the Arizona Department of Health Services 24 hour breastfeeding support line: 800 833 4642. The National Breastfeeding support line is 800-994-9662. Thank you for writing– I hope you get the support you are looking for! Let us know how it goes.

  9. Jesscia says:

    Dr. Jones is our doctor and I can say without a doubt that I would not still be breastfeeding my 6 month old daughter without her help and support. We have had more troubles than I can list but she is always there with support, ideas, education and concern for both my daughter and I. Dr. Jones understands that mom must be healthy to care for baby and so has always shown an interest in not just baby but me as well. She is a wonderful doctor who is supportive of our choices, educates us when needed or requested, cares for our family and has provided us the Dr./patient relationship that I had hoped to find since finding out that we were having a child. I trust her without a doubt and know that she would never advise us to do with our child something that she would not do with her own. She gives us all the time that we need at every appointment and I have never once felt rushed. I love that her son is a few months older than our daughter so when I come to her needing advise or support I know that she has been there and understands where I am coming from. I cannot say enough positive about her. Thank you, Dr. Jones for taking care of us! We appreciate you!

  10. […] What to ask a pediatrician about breastfeeding ( Share this:EmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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